he 2019-20 season begins in just six days time; Newport City Radio looks in to County's pre-season preparations and cast their eye over what they expect from Mike Flynn's men over the campaign.
17/7/19 County 1-0 Shrewsbury Town
Mike Flynn began the pre-season schedule by naming a strong team against the League One side at the Ludlow Stadium. New signings Tom King, Daniel Leadbitter, Kyle Howkins, George Nurse and Corey Whitely were all handed starts but it was Jamille Matt, fresh from his best scoring season last term, who scored the only goal of the game. A victory over a side in the division above them is nothing new to the Exiles - we'll never forget the cup runs of the past couple of seasons - but was the perfect start to what many are tipping as an even more successful campaign to come.
19/7/19 Bath City 1-1 County
A side largely filled with academy players saw a game they were largely in control of end honours even. Trialist three scored County's only goal which would be cancelled out with just under 20 minutes left. Run-outs were given to new boys Marvel Ekpiteta and Lazar Stojsavljevic but in truth, not much can be taken from this fixture. To relinquish a lead against the National League side with somewhat experienced backline may have been cause for concern, though.
22/7/19 Weston-Super-Mare 1-8 County
A comprehensive and hugely encouraging attacking performance saw the South Wales side run out rampant winners over the Somerset side. The National League South side were largely powerless to prevent the League Two play-off finalists from repeatedly breaching their defences; top scorer Padraig Amond bagging a brace in addition to goals for Labadie, Marsh-Brown, Sheehan, new signings Howkins and Whitely and one for the returning (from a loan spell at Barry Town) Mo Touray. The fearsome display is the one that will have fans most excited for the upcoming campaign; everything they tried worked and they looked every bit a side that are going to do big things this season.
24/7/19 County 1-6 Chelsea U23
Given the exploits of the squad two days previously, there was little surprise to see a number of fringe players get the nod for the visit of Chelsea's development squad. Mo Touray opened the scoring for County but that's where the positives ended as the visitors to Spytty Park became overwhelming to deal with. It was later found that the senior squad suffered a big defeat at Cardiff City earlier in the afternoon. Given that this fixture was Fraser Franks' benefit match, it's a bit disappointing not to see a few more senior players involved, but Mike Flynn has always been of the mindset that there's little place for sentiment in the game. He did, however, send Fraser's brother George on for the last five minutes in place of goalscorer Touray.
27/7/19 Hungerford Town 0-3 County
Pre-season came to an end with a convincing win at another National League South side Hungerford Town. Joss Labadie started the scoring on three minutes with a smart volley and was followed by good finishes from Corey Whitely and Padraig Amond, the latter also having a penalty saved. A strong XI produced some impressive play throughout the game and were seldom troubled by their opposition. A good final run-out before Mansfield come to town next weekend.
So what can we expect from County in 2019-20?
All signs point to a more attack-minded style of football from Mike Flynn's side this season. Joss Labadie has looked to play closer to the front two during pre-season and Corey Whitely looks to inject the spark in wide areas that County lost after Antoine Semenyo went back to Bristol City in January.
The front two have the same appetite and eye for goal of last season and competition for places is far more fierce than it was this time last year. Goals will need to come from other areas but based on what we've seen so far, it looks as if that will be the case.
It's the defense that still looks as if work may need doing. Dan Butler will be a loss in both halves of the pitch this season, but only a pair of clean sheets could be of concern to Exiles fans. Could it be that County are going to operate the thinking of "you score two, we'll score three" this season?
For the sake of Tom King - who looks likely to take the role of first-choice goalkeeper - we hope this isn't the case because should this marauding style not work out, the more vocal and passionate fans will not be slow in getting on his back for conceding what believe Joe Day wouldn't have.
We all know what County are capable of - barely any football fan in the country missed how they dispatched Leeds, Leicester City and Middlesbrough over the last two FA Cup competitions. But there just seems to be that little bit more impotice around the team in comparison to last year; an extra feeling that they can achieve something far above their station...again.